QB throws for three TDs, and proves a point
Friday’s CFL game included a Bridge to the past.
On an evening in which the 2017 Canadian Football Hall of Fame enshrines were introduced at Tim Hortons Field, the Saskatchewan Roughriders started a Canadian-born quarterback — Brandon Bridge — for the first time since the tail end of the 1977 season.
Bridge threw three touchdown passes on Friday as the Roughriders defeated the host Hamilton Tiger-Cats 27-19.
At 3:03 of the second quarter, Bridge became the first homegrown quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in a starting role with Saskatchewan since Oct. 30, 1977, when Eric Guthrie fired a 35-yarder to Joey Walters in a 38-28 victory over Hamilton at Taylor Field. (The Vancouverborn Guthrie also started a week later, when the Riders lost a
38-0 squeaker in Edmonton.)
The year before, Simon Fraser University product Dave Syme had thrown a TD pass to Rhett Dawson in relief of Pennsylvania-born Ron Lancaster (who was then classified as a naturalized Canadian and therefore played as a non-import) as the Roughriders cruised to a 34-3 victory over the visiting Toronto Argonauts on Oct. 10, 1976.
Syme’s touchdown pass was the Roughriders’ first by a product of the Canadian developmental system since 1958, when Ron Adam threw for three majors over the course of the season.
Adam, who was born on the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster, later resided in Yorkton and Saskatoon. He played junior football for the Saskatoon Hilltops before debuting with the Roughriders in 1954.
Also a defensive back, Adam threw six touchdown passes for the Roughriders over a seven-season span. His three TD passes in 1958 tied him with Ken Preston (1946) for the most in a single season by a Canadianborn pivot in Riders history.
Bridge broke that club record Friday night and shattered a stereotype in the process.
Yes, a Canadian can play quarterback — and successfully so — in the Canadian Football League.
This in spite of a league rule that is unacceptably discriminatory to Canadians.
CFL roster regulations allow for teams to dress three quarterbacks of any nationality. Those spots, of course, are almost always occupied by Americans.
Credit to Bridge for making it on to a roster, let alone starting, despite the ratio situation.
It is ridiculous, really. Roughriders head coach and general manager Chris Jones opted to start a Canadian at football’s most important position and did not derive any ratio-related benefits from doing so.
However, there were clear benefits to deploying Bridge, given the manner in which he performed in relief of Kevin Glenn (who sat out with a bruised right hand).
The 25-year-old Bridge demonstrated poise and a strong arm while completing 21 of 31 passes for 231 yards, without an interception.
The rap on Bridge used to pertain to accuracy, or lack thereof.
A graduate of the South Alabama Jaguars, Bridge completed only 50.9 per cent of his passes as a collegian. There were also concerns about his mechanics, considering that his throwing motion is rather unorthodox.
After Friday’s game, Bridge boasted CFL career stats of 70 completions in 101 attempts — a 69.3-per-cent accuracy rate — for 871 yards, with eight touchdown passes and two interceptions. His quarterback rating: An eye-popping 113.9.
Most importantly, the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder helped Saskatchewan improve its record to 6-5. The Roughriders had not been above .500 since the tail end of the 2014 campaign.
Considering the larger equation, it wasn’t simply a victory for the Roughriders, but for every Canadian who plays quarterback or aspires to do so.